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NIS pays tribute to pensioners

NIS pays tribute to pensioners

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Just short of two weeks before the celebration of our nation’s 36th anniversary of Independence, the National Insurance Services (NIS) paid tribute to the nation’s pensioners at the annual Pensioners’ Appreciation Day at their headquarters, under the theme ‘Recognizing, Respecting, Reconnecting Retirees’.{{more}}

As part of the celebration, deputy executive director of the NIS Dr Mineva Glasgow received her first pensioner’s cheque, as she celebrated her 60th birthday on the same day, October 15.

During her remarks, Glasgow stated that the NIS sees providing pensions and other forms of social assistance for the elderly population of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) as an integral pillar of its operations, adding that senior citizens should be celebrated and work should be done to enable them to become fully integrated into society rather than relegate them to the sidelines of life.

“The idea that we owe much of what we now have to the sacrifices made by those of you who have come before, clarifies why we should view the elderly with respect and honour. We know that to a certain extent, each generation raised the next one in terms of improving quality of life and advancing social justice,” she said.

Glasgow said the NIS takes pride in delivering its service, which it considers to be significant, since they are aware that many pensioners depend solely on the NIS for their subsistence.

Following the merriment created by the NIS Heritage Groovers, chair of the National Insurance Board (NIB) Lennox Bowman, during his remarks, recognized the “Nation Builders”, as he called them, as having wisdom and expertise from which the younger generation could benefit. Bowman added that pension systems are a fundamental element within any social security programme because they provide social insurance against any major changes in the circumstances in life.

Bowman said the NIB is committed to ensuring that the contributions people make are properly accounted for, so that upon arriving at their pensionable age, pensioners can reap the rewards of labour, specifically for persons on the “lowest spectrum of the salary scale.”

“It is designed to provide you with a secure protection of support on which you can build… you can rely on your NIS pension as a safety net.

“You can actually look forward to a retirement as a time to be free from the world of work and spend time with your family and loved ones.”

Bowman said that pensions alone may not see them through, but they help.

“I can say with confidence that the NIS pensions have greatly enhanced the status and social standing of our senior citizens among families and communities.

“The pension does not only boost your physiological well being, but it provides the difference between dignity and degradation in old age.”

Scores of pensioners of various ages took to singing and dancing, as they were treated to a praise and worship session, led by the NIS Heritage Groovers.

Although the ceremony was interrupted by heavy rainfall, the pensioners were moved into the building where the keynote address, by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Minister responsible for Social Security, was delivered.

Now 69 years old, Gonsalves stated he has been told that he is the longest serving minister with responsibility for the NIS in its history.

He expressed his appreciation to pensioners for the work that they did during the years when they contributed to the NIS. He reiterated to pensioners that they are enjoying benefits beyond their deductions.

At present, the NIS contributes money to some 6,367 pensioners monthly, of which, old age pensioners are 5,218, explained Gonsalves. This totals an annual pay-out of some $40.7 million, he said. The NIS fully covers 93 per cent of wages to contributors, and come 2016, the value of the public assistance paid will be increased by $25, he said.

Gonsalves related how far the NIS has come and shared with listeners plans for the future, along with advice on living a healthy life, so as to avoid disorders such as diabetes and hypertension.

The first NIS Pensioners’ Appreciation Day was held in 1999, to show appreciation and to honour pensioners for their contribution to nation building. (AS)